Dell purchase

Hi folks,

I am considering buying a Dell computer. I don't have a strong desire to *play* music through my computer, but I would like to be able to copy CDs, and especially record my LPs to CD. I'd want to experiment and see the quality.

Dell offers a CD/CDR/CDW device with their machines. No brand name listed! (Just "Dell"). Any sense of the quality for these purposes?

Also they offer a choice of two "premium" sound cards. I understand sound card quality is important when recording from analog sources. Choices are: the Sound Blaster "Live" (this is a step down from the top-of-the-line soundblaster) and the "Turtle Beach Santa Cruz". Any thoughts on these two sound cards?

Or are these parts too low-quality, such that I should just buy a "bare" box and add better quality parts?

Thanks for any thoughts!
Dude, yer' gettin' a Dell!
I use a dell and I have been doing quite a bit of vinyl recording, with great results. (Of course, I still prefer to listen to the vinyl!)

It has always been my contention that the cdr burner is of little importance. Either it will work correctly or it won't, and the Dell works correctly. An incorrectly working burner will produce a music cd with a lot of crackle and pop in it. A correctly working one will produce a cd with no added crackle and pop.

However, the sound card is a different matter. It is the sound card that converts from analog to digital and how it does it does matter. Also, because the sound card resides inside a computer box, it is bathed in RF and EM noise.

The cards you mention will only digitize an analog signal at 44kHz (or maybe 48). I'm not sure whether they do 24 bit. Shortly after I got my machine, I installed a Soundblaster Audigy, which I was not happy with. I then got a Digital Audio Card Deluxe, which is great. It does 24/96 and it is very quiet, especially for an internal unit.

good luck!
Gboren's advice is spot-on. For CD copying, it will work flawlessly - I've copied many hundreds of my CDs to load into changers. You get the occassional fault (which is immediately identified and you throw the blank away), but in general you get a perfect copy 99% of the time. For recording from vinyl, you'll want to buy a much better sound card. Buying the Dell and adding a high-end soundcard will get you exactly what you want. -Kirk
I have one word.... Macintosh

I've been more impressed with them. True, I am die hard mac fan, but my job requires me to use both mac and Dell burners. Actually, the mac is a dvd burner as well. (if you get the upgraded one)
here's another macaholic. "get a life, get a mac." -cfb
I have a Dell 8100 with the Turtle Beach sound card. Before I purchased, I was able to compare the two sound cards you mentioned and the choice was easy. The Turtle Beach is cleaner, clearer and more dynamic.
I recently purchased a Dell for my office. Well dude, I'm not too impressed. Since you should mention the cdw, don't know the brand nor care to, it is a piece of ...., I've attempted to make 4 copies of music and all are flawed. Data other than music SEEMS to be adequate and this is the main purpose for it. I guess I should have upgraded the cdw to one that actually works instead of the made in China no name unit I got. One thing good about Dell though is their customer service, excellent. Mac, I'll be taking a long hard look for my next home unit. I miss using them but it has been a while.
I strongly suspect your problem is your software settings. I have made a zillion music cd dupes on perhaps six different machines with components made in Mexico, Singapore, China, Brazil, Malaysia, Korea, etc. I invariably have a few problems with the first try, but when I get the settings right, everything works perfectly.

BTW, where can you get a machine with components made entirely in the US?
Thanks Gboren I'll check it out and get back. I really don't see how the settings have anything to do with a straight copy from one cd to another and have never found this to be a problem in the past with other computer based cdr's. Furthermore on each copy I attempted to make, I did the laborious scan mode for defects prior to copying. The unit just may well be defective.
I build my own computers. I have owned several Turtle Beach sound cards- great for what they do. I also have Altec Lansing mini monitors and separate sub from(good guys)retail $85.00 (they sound good). I also own an hp cd-writer 9100 cdr/cdrw. Every CD I burn sounds sub-par on my hifi system; even using an old denon changer. Through my computer and car audio system I can't hear the difference. Any non-prof cd burner will suffice. You could also check out sony's website. They now have DVD-Burners as well.

Best of Luck
Tubegroover, When a computer reads a data cd, the spin and head do not necessarily need to be highly coordinated. This is because if the drive misses a reading a bit, it can just wait until the cd spins to the correct location again to get it. When it lays down a data bit, it is not too important where on the cd the bit is physically laid down. The system has a protocol for telling the reader where to expect the next bit of data. When a regular cd player plays a cd, it reads the information from the inside to the outside in one continuous stream. It cannot wait for the disc to make another revolution, and it cannot randomly jump to other areas of the disc. For that reason, timing is everything (I'm not talking about jitter, which is not involved here). To resolve this problem, cd burners and their associated software use a buffer so the data can be laid down in one physically continuous stream. But if the buffer is depleted too fast, or if the buffer is logjammed, you will get an interruption in the data stream which ultimately sounds like pops and crackle.

with that in mind, here are just a few of the setting issues which should be looked at:
1. buffer over/underrun problems. If you are copying direct from transport to burner (without copying to the hard drive), your copying speed can be either too slow or too fast, depending on the type of buffer system your drive and software use. I have actually had problems copying at 1X as well as problems at 24X.
2. Is your source drive capable of "audio extraction"? If it is an older drive, it may not be. This means that the source cannot deliver a reliably regular data stream that the buffer manager can manage.
3. Are you running other software while burning?

There may also be other issues that don't come to mind at the moment.
good luck!
don't waste your money buying a dell, they are generally more expensive than less well known brands for a box full of the same stuff. Slightly smaller brands like micron or abs will give you a much better deal for an equivelent machine
Thanks to everyone here for the great advice! I am starting a new thread, called "sound cards". Based on the advice here, the choice of sound card is the main question. Also I hope to suck in people who may not have responded to the original "Dell" subject.

Thanks again!

- Eric